It is reported that Big Ian will be standing down as Free Presbyterian moderator as of January. This means that the big fella, 81, will be relinquishing formal control of the fundamentalist church he has ruled with an iron fist since setting it up 56 years ago. And I do stress formal control – there can be little doubt that Ian will be tempted to do some backseat driving. No word yet on the new moderator, but I would put a small sum on Kyle Paisley (relation) taking up the reins.
This follows some grousing from the more theologically inclined Paisleyites, whose anti-Catholicism is so virulent that it’s taken quite some effort for the big man to keep them relatively quiet over his assumption of the North’s premiership in coalition with the Provos. I would see this as part of the gradual weakening of the umbilical link between the FPC, which has historically provided the DUP with most of its leading cadre – a large part of the party’s formidable discipline has derived from Big Ian being both temporal and spiritual leader – and a DUP that has far outgrown its fundamentalist niche.